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Flaunting tattoos might be extremely popular but skin ink is posing a growing threat to masking cancerous moles.
Flaunting tattoos might be extremely popular but skin ink is posing a growing threat to masking cancerous moles.
Beneath the Chinese calligraphy design or sleeve tattoo, a mole could be changing its shape, colour and texture — signs that melanoma could be developing.
 
But they are signs that could go undetected.
 
“It changes skin in terms of what we can see,’’ Royal North Shore Hospital dermatologist Associate Professor Saxon Smith said.
 
“We know from the research that something like 30 per cent of 18 to 30 year olds (in Australia) have a tattoo. It is a challenge that we face.”
 
Dr Smith said it was the degree people were sporting tattoos and the use of multiple coloured inks that was a growing concern.
 
“It’s not longer just the cartoon characters any more,’’ he said.
 
“It’s not just one of them but also the extent they’re being used is a challenge.
 
“If you have a thigh or a leg it covers a broad surface so it is important to protect your skin.”
 
Compounding the problem is 30 per cent of 18 to 30 year-olds in Australia are sunbaking.
 
Dr Smith said 85 per cent of Australians were flouting the slip slop slap message.
 
He said they did not apply sunscreen properly and exposed creams to heat which made them less effective.
 
A significant proportion of these have tattoos and that’s going to be an interesting prospect,” Dr Smith said.
 
“There are some amazing artistic tattoos and I can appreciate the art that goes into them, and you can understand why people like expressing themselves, but you have to be aware of the intended consequences.”
 
The Cancer Council says about two in three Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 70.